Archive for May 9th, 2012

Info boss orders release of 4 year old pension report

| 09/05/2012 | 28 Comments

human_skeletons_covered_in_cobwebs_at_a_meeting_1574r-01177b (291x300).jpg(CNS): Attempts by the Public Service Pensions Board to keep a four-year-old report under wraps have been thwarted by the information commissioner, who has ordered its release. Jennifer Dilbert not only found that the pension board’s refusal based on the fact that the report had not yet been tabled in the Legislative Assembly was wrong but that far too much time had passed on the report. She said that the primary purpose of the review was not to present a report to the financial secretary and Cabinet but to assess and evaluate the viability of the fund. This was the second time an applicant requested a copy of The Actuarial Valuation of the Public Service Pension Plan 2008 after the request was deferred in 2009 because it had not been tabled in the LA.

In her 20th decision since taking office, Dilbert overturned the Public Service Pensions Board’s deferral of access to the valuation document and ordered its release.

In October last year a Freedom of Information request for the report was made and declined on the grounds that it was waiting to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

However, under the Public Service Pensions Law, at least every three years the PSPB must have a review carried out by an actuary to assess and evaluate the assets and liabilities of the Public Service Pensions Fund. A report of the actuarial review is to be sent to the Financial Secretary, who is required to table it in the Legislative Assembly and make the report public.

In making the decision to release the record, the commissioner reviewed the Public Service Pensions Law, the Legislative Assembly Standing Orders, the FOI law and FOI regulations and found no restrictions regarding release of the record.

“The deferral in section 11(2)(b) does not apply to the responsive record as it was not prepared for presentation to the Legislative Assembly or for the purpose of being made available to a particular person or body. Even if it was prepared for presentation to a person or body, a reasonable period after its preparation for it to be so presented or made available to that person or body has expired,” Dilbert said.

The commissioner had previously upheld the PSPB’s decision to defer access to the record back in 2009 but in this instance she noted that over three years has passed and the report has still not been tabled and gazetted as required.

Although the PSPB claimed the responsive record was prepared for presentation to the financial secretary and Cabinet for subsequent tabling in the Legislative Assembly, Dilbert said she disagreed.

“Section 12(1) of the Public Service Pensions Law sets out that the actuarial review is to be carried out in order to assess and evaluate the assets and liabilities of the Fund. The primary purpose of the review is not to present a report on it to the Financial Secretary and Cabinet, but to assess and evaluate the viability of the Fund,” she said in her decision.

The board said that the 2008 report was meant to be combined with the more recent 2011 report which is currently being prepared and then tabled in the Legislative Assembly. However, Dilbert wrote that the planned incorporation of the older report in the 2011 was irrelevant to its release and could not be used to justify a further deferral.

The board has 45 days to appeal to the Grand Court by way of judicial review but if not the report must be released.

See the full decision below or visit www.INFOCOMM.ky

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Students to discuss crime at regional bank event

| 09/05/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local students will be taking part in debate about citizen security with regional experts at the forth coming high-level Caribbean Development Bank’s Annual Board of Governors Meeting. Leaders in secondary- and tertiary-level educational institutions in Cayman are nominating students to attend the Vybzing Youth Programme which is an invitation-only event. About 70 students will participate in the exercise to explore the issues and concerns surrounding citizen security and violent crime.  Students will be chosen for their ability to contribute to the national and regional discussion on citizen security in communities, officials said.

Angela Parris,Vybzing coordinator and manager of the Caribbean Development Bank’s Information Services Unit said the all-day forum, which will be held on 17 May. “It will equip youth with the tools to develop their own community-based projects on citizen security,” she said. “Youth representatives also will be given a voice at the annual meeting’s closing ceremony on 24 May, to share their views and recommendation for action.”

Speakers at the event include Dr April Bernard, a lecturer in sociology and deputy dean  in the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Programme Manager Paula Mohamed, of the Barbados-based United Nations Development Programme and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; and Portfolio Manager Deidre Clarendon, of the Caribbean Development Bank.

Opening remarks at the event will be given by CDB’s Vice-President and Bank Secretary, Yvette Lemonias Seale; and Cayman’s education minister Rolston Anglin.

Parris explained that the youth forum has now become embedded in CDB annual meetings, as a way to inspire, inform and engage youth in the meeting’s host country. This year’s theme for the youth forum reflects the agenda of CDB President Dr Warren Smith who, in his address at the 41st Board of Governors’ Meeting in May 2011, acknowledged that crime and violence is a major contributor to anxiety in Caribbean society, and that subsequently it should be given high priority on the development agenda.

“CDB will work very closely with governments, community-based organisations and other stakeholders to begin to address the infrastructure deficiencies and social interventions needed to engage and transform communities adversely affected by crime and violence,” Dr Smith said.

For the Vybzing Youth Programme, CDB is working with the University College of the Cayman Islands and the International College of the Cayman Islands. More information about Vybzing is available on www.cdbvybzing.org/facebook.

 

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CINICO introduces instant patient payment

| 09/05/2012 | 0 Comments

391857-54118-58.jpg(CNS): A new health payment system was launched at George Town hospital Wednesday which officials described as a “tremendous leap forward for the local healthcare system.” Cayman Islands National Insurance Company (CINICO) and the Health Services Authority have partnered to create a system that will allow payment of claims for clinical work at the point of care for CINICO members.  Real Time Adjudication (RTA) uses the CarePay system that was rolled out to all CINICO members at the end of last year. Members only have to produce a CarePay card when they visit the doctor or dentist which will provide all the information needed regarding eligibility and payment when it is swiped.

CarePay is one of the first steps taken by the health ministry to improve the insurance system for patients and providers by simplifying the billing and payment for CINICO clients.  Every CINICO member now has a swipe card that is used to process their insurance claims. For the system to work the card must be presented along with a valid method of ID when a patient registers for an appointment at any HSA facility.

Mark Scotland, Ministerof Health, said he was pleased by the implementation of the system. “Although we have started within the Health Services Authority and CINICO, the ultimate goal is to include all commercial health insurance companies, thereby reducing their administrative overheads, improving coordination of benefits between insurance companies and greatly increasing patient and physician billing convenience, while modernizing the entire system for all residents of the Cayman Islands to benefit from,” he said.

When fully implemented, Scotland said, the system will be one of only three systemsof its kind in the Western Hemisphere, establishing the Cayman Islands as a role model leader in healthcare.

Canover Watson, Chairman of the HSA Board described it as a revolutionary step for the HAS.
“Approximately 25 per cent of the overhead costs in healthcare are associated with the inefficiencies of the billing system,’ he explained. “On average, it takes over 60 days for the HSA to receive payment for services they render, making cash flow a major challenge to manage. 

“In addition, physicians and patients are frequently confused and burdened by the process. The CarePay system will now stream line the process for CINICO and the HSA resulting in significant cost savings,” Watson added.

It is anticipated that the new system will create more efficiencies because it will take the guess work out of whether a patient is eligible for treatment and it will also immediately settle the issue of how much of the cost of the treatment provided will be covered by the insurance company.

Scott Cummings, CINICO Board Chairman said patients would be able to understand and pay their healthcare bill at the time of care, just as with any normal billing process. “Patients' bills will be settled at the time of their care, not days or weeks afterwards.  They will leave the hospital or clinic with their billing process completed which is clearly an added benefit for our members as well,” he said.

Once fully installed, it is hoped this system will reduce the HSA’s and CINICO’s overhead costs considerably, allowing these entities to channel funds saved directly into better patient care. 

 

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Two men charged after cops seize gun

| 09/05/2012 | 0 Comments

IMG_6250 (269x300).jpg(CNS): The police have now charged one man with possession of an unlicensed firearm and the second with obstructing the police following an early morning routine stop last weekend. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said Wednesday that the two men were expected to appear in court on Wednesday and that a 21 year old woman who was also arrested at the scene, as she was in the car with the two men, has been released from custody without charge. The two men aged 26 and 24 were both arrested early Saturday morning following the recovery of a handgun and ammunition by regular officers one of which engaged in a struggle with one of the suspects over the loaded gun.

After the unarmed cops seized the loaded weapon one officer chased after a suspect who had tried to flee while his colleague was left to struggle with the second man who had tried to get back the gun. The firearm (pictured above) was seized and exhibited for further evidential purposes police said.

Acting Chief Superintendent Kurt Walton commended the officers who were on routine patrol when they spotted a suspicious car. “They never expected to be confronted with armed suspects. Their bravery demonstrates the level of commitment shown by our officers in the continued fight against criminality in the Cayman Islands.” Walton said 

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Boat stolen from Grand Harbour

| 09/05/2012 | 23 Comments

Bank Robber 38 Fountain.jpg(CNS): A 38-foot boat was stolen from "The Estates" in Grand Harbour between 4pm on Tuesday and 10am on Wednesday morning. According to the owner of Bank Robber, the vessel is a 38' LX Fountain, Triple Mercury Verados 275HP. If anyone spots the boat or its engines or has any information concerning the theft, they are asked to call Kraig at 938-7677 or email khislop@gmail.com. More information below.

 

HULL ID# FGQ8L120D707

ENGINES: VERADO SERIES

PORT………..(Model# 275XLVER, Serial# 1B474020)

CENTER……..(Model# 275XXLVER, Serial# 1B474024)

STARBOARD..(Model# 275CXLVER, Serial# 1B474029)

engines.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Teen prisoner in critical care

| 09/05/2012 | 14 Comments

police station (245x300).jpg(CNS): Updated Thursday 1:30pm   While the teenage prisoner remains in critical care after being trapped in a blazing cell Wednesday morning, the ten police officers who were also hospitalized due to the fire at George Town police station have all now been released. The police station, however, is still closed to the public and investigations into the cause of the fire continue. Police staff have been relocated to nearby Elizabethan Square pending further assessments of the police station building by the fire service and planning department. The public can still contact staff either in person or via the phone and a temporary front desk has been established on the 3rd floor of Elizabethan Square.

The fire started around 10:15am on Wednesday morning and police said it was confined to the cell area before it was extinguished by the fire service. An RCIPS spokesperson said that there is some smoke damage to the building as a result of the blaze.

Although one police officer and the teen prisoner were immediately taken to the hospital for treatment, once the smoke filled station was evacuated, another nine officers reported feeling unwell and were also taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital for treatment, all of whom have since been released. Although the teenager remains in critical care, officials say the young man is in stable condition.

Anyone wishing to contact GT police station is asked to call the temporary number 943-4311. For emergencies the regular 911 number should continue to be used.

Meanwhile, shortly after the blaze at the police station another fire also broke out in the generator room at CITN’s television centre, which was evacuated before the fire service extinguished the blaze.

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JA political parties probe fraudster funding claim

| 09/05/2012 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The two main political parties in Jamaica are investigating allegations that they received large sums of money from a convicted fraudster in 2007. David Smith is serving a 30-year sentence for defrauding investors in the Caribbean and Florida through a phoney investment group called Olint. Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, of the governing People's National Party, has denied accepting $1m from Smith. The opposition Labour Party says it is examining claims that it received $5m. Mr Patterson, who served as prime minister from 1992 to 2006, denied "soliciting or receiving any such gift".

People's National Party Chairman Robert Pickersgill said the party had no record of having received money from Smith.

The Labour Party (JLP) released a statement saying it was aware that David Smith "was one of many contributors to the JLP campaign over the period leading up to the September 2007 General Election". It said it would examine claims that Smith paid $5m (£3m) to the party.
The allegations were outlined in court documents released by the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands, one of the locations where Smith ran his multi-million-dollar ponzi scheme.

According to the documents, the two parties as well as Mr Patterson and Labour Party Deputy Treasurer Daryl Vaz benefited from donations made by Smith. Mr Vaz has denied that any donation he received from Smith was a personal gift.

Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a US court in August 2011 after pleading guilty to money laundering and wire fraud.

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Bush still in office

| 09/05/2012 | 59 Comments

mac LA.jpg(CNS): As the opposition prepared to debate its lack of confidence motion outside the Legislative Assembly, the premier remained in office and as defiant as ever on Wednesday. Following another appearance on a local television show on Tuesday evening, McKeeva Bush stated again he had done nothing wrong, and despite the pressure, he was not stepping aside. Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin warned Bush at a PPM meeting on Monday night that he was willing to reveal more of the details regarding the police probes into the premier and in particular the further evidence held by police in connection with the Stan Thomas affair.

McLaughlin said it was up to the premier to explain the letter but if he would not do that and he would not step aside, then he was prepared to reveal what he knew of the two year long investigation surrounding Bush and Thomas and a payment in connection with a land zoning deal.

The premier has also made it clear that the government was not ready to debate the opposition’s lack of confidence motion as he needed to speak with his lawyers to clarify what he could say during such a debate as he said he wanted the people to hear the truth. Speaking on Cayman27’s "The Panel" on Tuesday evening, the premier also stated that he was unconcerned by the opposition’s threat to boycott the parliament’s proceedings because that would make it easier to get government’s work done.

The opposition members are calling on the people to come to the impromptu outdoor Legislative Assembly debate that they plan to have Wednesday as a result of the government’s refusal to place the no confidence motion on the order paper and to keep up the pressure on the premier to resign.

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Cayman cruise and air arrivals continue growth

| 09/05/2012 | 0 Comments

welcome to cayman.jpg(CNS Business): The latest figures from the Cayman islands Department of Tourism bring positive news for the sector as both air and cruise arrivals remained up this year during the first quarter compared to last year. In particularly positive news in light of the decline throughout 2011, cruise tourism was up by more than eight per cent and air arrivals improved further on the gains made throughout 2011. Even though the first quarter of 2011 had seen a significant increase in passengers flying into Grand Cayman on 2010, the figures were up again in the first three months of this year by 2.5 per cent. Read more on CNS Business

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UK plans to keep tight control on TCI finances

| 09/05/2012 | 19 Comments

Gov-Ric-Tood.jpg(CNS): A draft law in the Turks and Caicos Islands will see the British government retaining a tight grip on the country’s financial situation for several more years, even after it returns to an elected government. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) bill will ensure that post remains a UK appointed position, which officials said would protect the Ministry of Finance against any "intentional or unintentional Ministerial interference” that could undermine the territory's public finances.  Meanwhile, the governor has also announced that an increase in revenues for this financial year of around 20% coupled with a cut in public spending has led to a budget surplus for the TCI government of around $4 million.

Given the financial problems of the islands as well as the allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds, even when the UK returns the territory back to a democratically elected government, it will be picking the person who will guard the public purse strings.

The continuation of a UK appointed CFO after the election is an essential condition of the $260m loan guarantee. “The agreement allows for the CFO to be retained for as long as any UK loan guarantee is in force, currently up to 2016, and for the UK to nominate the person who will hold the office of CFO," TCI officials stated.

In December 2010 FCO ministers Henry Bellingham and Alan Duncan said the UK Government had stepped in to prevent the TCI’s finances from collapsing and in return it intended to retain sufficient control over public finances following elections in order to ensure that TCI emerges from its financial crisis and that the temporary financial UK support was no longer needed.

The bill sets out the authority and powers of the CFO and has been prepared to ensure that it not only meets the requirements of the UK Government, but also reflects the needs of the TCI, officials said. The law will also clarify the division of responsibilities between the governor, minister, and the CFO.

“The draft Chief Financial Officer Bill will be of interest to everyone,” Governor Ric Todd stated. “UK Ministers have seen the Bill and are broadly content with the powers it sets out for the CFO.  The provisions of the Bill are wide-ranging and necessary to continue to reinforce financial control standards after elections, and to ensure TCIG reduces its debt and builds a track record of surpluses that should allow access to commercial finance by the time the loan guarantee expires in 2016.”

He said it empowers the CFO to work with an elected government to safeguard public finances, and although the local TCI Advisory Council and Consultative Forum could provide comments, requests to dilute the intent of the bill were unlikely to be accepted.

Todd also said that the draft Budget for 2013 projected a total revenue of around $200m and a return to a fiscal surplus, which was moving TCI to a position where UK financial support would no longer be required.

Pointing to the achievements of the current government, Todd said that when the interim administration took over in 2009 the TCIG spending was over $50m more than its income, and it owed around $75m in unpaid bills. “Given the global financial challenges that existed then and now, to turnaround this situation where we are now predicting a surplus of $4m this financial year, after funding the capital programme and bond repayments, is a considerable achievement,” he said as he indicated that there would likely be money for local infrastructure improvements at schools and on the roads.

Officials said the surplus was achieved by a combination of increasing revenues, reducing costs and improving how government business is done in the TCI. The TCIG voluntary severance scheme has also created “a civil service of a size moreappropriate to a country of our size,” officials added. The government also said investor confidence was returning as new legislation would ensure “the excesses and mismanagement of the past” were not repeated.

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